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Pakistan says 4 citizens killed after Iranian border guards open fire

Iran's flag (Dreamstime/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian border guards opened fire on a vehicle carrying Pakistani citizens near the border village of Mashkel in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan Province, killing four people and injuring two others.

Omar Jamali, the deputy commissioner of Pakistan’s Washuk district, confirmed the shooting in the Washuk region, close to the border where violence often erupts.

Sahibzada Asfand, a government administrator, said the circumstances that prompted the gunfire remain unclear.

Neither Tehran nor the Pakistani Foreign Ministry have commented on the incident.

The shooting comes amid already strained relations between Iran and Pakistan, which have seen a significant escalation in incidents between the two countries.

In January, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) launched an attack in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province, killing two children.

Tehran claimed it was targeting the Sunni Baluch militant group Jaish al-Adl, which is designated as a terrorist entity by both Iran and the United States.

In a retaliatory move, Pakistani warplanes conducted air strikes on alleged militant targets in Iran on January 18, resulting in at least nine deaths, including six children and two women. This marked a severe escalation in the conflict between the two nations.

In an effort to de-escalate the situation, the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Pakistan in early May.

His visit was aimed at mending relations through diplomatic engagements, described as critical for normalizing ties between Tehran and Islamabad.

Raisi died on May 19 in a helicopter accident.

The military actions in January targeted separatist factions. Islamabad attacked bases of the Baluch Liberation Front and the Baluchistan Liberation Army, while Tehran focused on the militant group Jaish al-Adl.

These groups operate in the mineral-rich, underdeveloped provinces of Balochistan in Pakistan and Sistan-Baluchistan in Iran, regions long plagued by instability.

The porous, 900-kilometer border between Iran and Pakistan has been difficult to control, allowing various militant groups, particularly those with Baluch nationalist ideologies, to operate in the area.